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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Shi Smith

  • The Draft Network
  • January 8, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - SHI SMITH

South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith did not enjoy consistent quarterback play in college, but proved to be a steady contributor across four seasons. The best part of Smith’s game is his ability to accelerate and the variance with his release package. Those qualities help him uncover quickly and establish leverage early in routes. He has mostly reliable hands and is scrappy despite his size. When it comes to areas he can improve, becoming a more deceptive route-runner, developing more consistency with his ball skills, and adding functional strength to help him deal with contact better are the most notable. Smith has a chance to develop into a quality slot receiver in the NFL but he has some areas to grow in before he will be afforded that opportunity. 

Ideal Role: Developmental slot receiver.

Scheme Fit: West Coast.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: Alabama (2019), Tennessee (2020), Florida (2020), Auburn (2020), Ole Miss (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Ole Miss (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: Florida (2020)

Route Running: Smith is a smooth accelerator but he has to be careful not to tip his routes. There are too many instances where he angles his route toward his break and it becomes predictable where he is going and cornerbacks easily drive on the route. He has run a fairly limited route tree in college, so in addition to becoming more deceiving, he has to learn how to run more routes. The best thing he does as a route-runner is his release package. 

Hands: Smith wasn’t plagued with many drops (12 in 262 targets) in college, but when had them, they were often uncontested and can be attributed to late hand alignment. He has shown the ability to secure the football outside of his frame and hang on through contact. The consistency with his hands declines when he’s tasked with late adjustments to the football and extending his catch radius. 

Separation: Smith is a modest separator and the lack of deception in his routes is a contributing factor. In addition, he has better straight-line speed than he does agility, so his quickness in and out of breaks can be deceiving. He has room to make better adjustments to zone coverage when searching for space.  

Release Package: Smith has good variety with his release package. He knows how to reduce his surface area and take steep angles off the line that enable him to create initial leverage. Smith does well to alter his tempo and vary his technique at the line of scrimmage. 

Run After Catch: Smith is sufficient after the catch but it’s not a standout area of his game. He has good quickness and he’s decisive with the ball in his hands, but he does not consistently make the first man miss when receiving manufactured touches. His modest agility relative to his size and skill set create some limitations when it comes to creating space for himself. 

Ball Skills: Smith has hauled in his share of acrobatic catches where he makes terrific adjustments, goes up for the football, and positions himself to win at the catch point. With that said, those highlights are marred by inconsistency when it comes to making late adjustments and winning in the air. When contact is introduced at the catch point, Smith isn’t going to win with regularity in those situations. 

Football IQ: Smith has been a productive receiver across four seasons at South Carolina with highly erratic quarterback play along the way. With that said, his route-running technique and adjustments to zone coverage have plenty of room for improvement. He has modest spatial awareness. 

Versatility: Smith operated primarily from the slot at South Carolina but he has experience working out wide and defeating press coverage. He has appeal to all levels of the field but there are also restrictions to be mindful of. Smith has 21 career kick returns in college but no punt returns. Overall, his utilization on special teams units at South Carolina was limited. 

Competitive Toughness: Smith has physical restrictions in terms of size and strength but he’s a scrappy player. Smith competes as a blocker and with the ball in his hands despite not always getting the results he hopes for. He won’t be confused as a guy who plays above his weight class. 

Big-Play Ability: South Carolina didn’t get Smith involved down the field very often and most of his work came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Smith’s modest ball skills and lack of size presents some challenges when working vertically. He has good speed but modest agility, which takes away from how dangerous and impactful he is as a YAC guy. 

Prospect Comparison: Jamison Crowder (2015 NFL Draft, Washington Football Team) 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 72.00/100

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